Level 3, Zayo fiber cuts in Northern Calif. come under FBI investigation

Fiber cuts that occurred on Level 3 and Zayo's fiber backbone networks in the San Francisco Bay area on Tuesday are now under investigation by the FBI.

These latest fiber cuts, reports USA Today, are just one of 11 physical attacks that have taken place in the area's networks over the past year.

Level 3 and Zayo both confirmed with FierceTelecom that their networks were experiencing a service disruption on Tuesday due to a fiber cut in the Northern California region.

Francie Dudrey, a spokeswoman with Level 3, told FierceTelecom via e-mail that the company has repaired the damaged cable and services are back online.

"The Level 3 network experienced a service disruption due to a fiber cut in the Northern California region," Dudrey said. "Ensuring the stability of our network and communications services is our primary concern, and we are dedicated to minimizing customer impact during an outage. Our network technicians worked to resolve the issue, and all services have been restored."

Zayo also confirmed that services in the Bay Area were disrupted and that it had deployed crews to repair the damaged cables.

"We can confirm there has been a service disruption in the Bay Area," said Shannon Paulk, a Zayo spokeswoman in an e-mail statement to FierceTelecom. "Law enforcement is involved and restoration crews are working to restore connectivity as quickly as possible."

Although FBI agents could not provide details on how widespread the effect of the attack was on businesses and residential customers, they did say that it did disrupt Internet services near Sacramento.

Among those affected by the fiber cuts were Wave Broadband. The competitive provider, which rents backbone services from Level 3 and Zayo, said its subscribers in Sacramento suffered outages.

Wave reported on its website that as of 11:40 PST Tuesday night its phone, TV and Internet services were restored and were "operating normally."

Agents said that someone broke into an underground fiber vault and severed three fiber cables that belonged to Level 3 and Zayo.

Vandalism against fiber networks isn't just relegated to Northern California.

CenturyLink reported in February that customers in north Phoenix and northern Arizona saw service disruptions due to a "deliberately cut" fiber line in the New River area.

Cutting fiber cable is only one part of the network disruption trend. A number of telcos, including Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Hawaiian Telcom have seen a growing set of attacks on their legacy copper network infrastructure.

Verizon announced in February it was offering a reward of up to $50,000 to apprehend whoever is responsible for stealing cable in Beaver, Fayette, Lawrence and Washington counties in Pennsylvania. Similarly, Hawaiian Telcom has reported seven incidents of copper theft in the Kalaeloa area, near the now closed Barbers Point Naval Air Station (NAS), since 2011.  

For more:
- USA Today has this article
- WSJ has this article
- here's Wave's statement

Related articles:
Level 3 fiber network outage disrupts Internet traffic in the U.S. and Europe
CenturyLink's Phoenix fiber network restored after being compromised by vandals
Verizon offers $50K reward to thwart copper theft in Western, Pa.
Hawaiian Telcom gets hit with seventh instance of copper theft